Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finally Saw a Space Launch

A spy satellite on top of a Minotaur vehicle, launched last night from Vandenberg AFB, exactly at the start of the launch window. (What's interesting about this satellite is it's apparently the first one designed to spy on other satellites.) I watched from Refugio Road just southeast of the tunnels near Gaviota, which is ~25 air miles from the launch site. From that distance the vehicle was not obvious but the stage separations were quite clear (I think you can kind of see one in the time lapse photo below as a slight bulge and then narrowing near the top of the arc as it tilted west out over the Pacific). A low crackling rumble became audible just about 2 minutes after the launch (from 25 miles!); much more suspenseful waiting for that than counting seconds between lightning and thunder.

I've been wanting to see a launch for years. Finally!

Image at Gant Daily

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